Sixteen Candles is a 1984 film written and directed by John Hughes, the first of his teen comedies. It stars Molly Ringwald as Samantha "Sam" Baker, a girl facing numerous emotional challenges on her sixteenth birthday. Her family, focused on the wedding of her older sister, Ginny, forgets her birthday; she's in love with senior Jake Ryan, who doesn't even know she exists; and she's pursued by a geeky freshman, Ted (Anthony Michael Hall).Not to be confused with Sixteen Wishes - even though that movie does, indeed, have sixteen candles.
Sixteen Candles provides examples of:
A-Cup Angst: Sam. Her brother, Mike remarks that she's eating carrots to "increase the size of her breasts". Sam throws her pen at him. Later, she says about her bridesmaid dress: "I don't have one-tenth of the bod to fill the stupid bust up." It doesn't help that her grandparents shamelessly mock her lack of development.
Ted is a geeky freshman with no social skills, but he's so earnestly determined that Sam eventually relents and lets him talk to her.
Long Duk Dong, despite being a walking stereotype, is described by his new girlfriend from the school dance as "sweet". Sam is disgusted.
Sam: Donger's here for five hours, and he's got somebody. I live here my whole life, and I'm like a disease.
Annoying Younger Sibling: Sam's brother, Mike, who cheerfully mocks her and everyone else and is more worldly than their parents are comfortable with.
Sam: Mike thinks I'm a dork.
Sam's dad: Mike is a dork.
Betty and Veronica: Jake Ryan is dating the blond cheerleader, Caroline (Veronica) but spends most of the movie trying to hook up with the red-headed plain but not-superficial Sam (Betty). Caroline gets this herself, when she leaves said male love interest (Veronica) for the geeky but sweet Ted whom she went home with while drunk (Betty). And since Ted had a crush on Sam, he himself chose the Veronica over the Betty.
Butt Monkey: The movie doesn't pull any punches in showing teens in humiliating situations, but the two standouts are Ted, who is abused by everyone before Sam and Jake finally take pity on him; and Dong, who is treated with every racial stereotype imaginable.
Dawson Casting: Averted with Sam and Ted; Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall were fifteen when the film was made, sixteen when it was released. Played straight with other characters, and lampshaded with Jake's girlfriend, Caroline (played by 25-year-old Haviland Morris) who, Sam remarks "had to flunk about nine grades." Gedde Watanabe, who played Long Duk Dong, was 29 at the time.
Dysfunctional Family: The Bakers mean well, but they fit the trope. They all (including grandparents and possibly other family attending the wedding) forgot Sam's birthday. Some fans have pointed out how little screentime Sara Baker gets (Did you notice there's a youngest child in the Baker family? She only pops up at the beginning and end.note In the Bonus Features for the flashback edition DVD, Diablo Cody (Writer of Juno) says "[Sara] is gonna have some therapy bills".)
Extraverted Nerd: Ted is doggedly persistent in his pursuit of Sam, to the degree that he seems less like a geek and more like a puppy who won't leave her alone.
Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Long Duk Dong is referred to as "Chinese", while he has a Vietnamese name, and he's played by a Japanese-American actor.
No Endor Holocaust: After the Wild Teen Party Jake's house is a mess, trees toilet papered, there's been a car accident (Long Duk Dong's) on the front lawn, a weight lifting weight crashed through two floors and ended up destroying wine racks in the basement... however Jake manages to get a decent sleep, goes out looking for and finds Ted and Caroline, drops by Sam's and picks her up at the church, and his house is nice and clean for the private birthday party at the end.
Open Minded Parent: In the end, Sam's Dad lets her skip out on her sister's reception to go out... somewhere... with an older teen he has never met before. As a Real Life parent this raises flags, but in the movie's world her Dad feels he probably owes her some slack.
Ted asks Samantha if he can borrow her panties, and then shows them off to a group of 9th and 10th graders in the boys' bathroom who each paid $1 to see them.
When Ted is driving the plastered Caroline home, he gets a glimpse of her panties. This reduces him to stunned incoherence.
Poor Communication Kills: Sam is bummed her family has forgotten her birthday, but still never says anything despite multiple opportunities to do so.
Precision F-Strike: The only time the word is used is when Sam realizes that her family forgot her birthday.
Rite of Passage: For Samantha, in the course of two days, her family forgets about her birthday, her sister gets married, she confronts her crush on Jake and Ted's crush on her, she reconciles with her mom and dad, and then finally gets Jake and has a fairy-tale first date, complete with birthday cake.
Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Getting laid is Ted's primary motivation throughout the film. He is finally convinced to leave Sam alone after he realizes that she's pining for Jake, and his "reward" for hooking the two of them up is having sex with Caroline.
Shotgun Wedding: It's never explicitly stated that this is happening, but when Ginny has missed a period and the two families are rushing her and her beau to the altar, the conclusion is obvious, as is the chagrin on everyone's faces when she reveals that her period has come after all, at the very beginning of the movie.
Shower Scene: Sam and her friend spy on Caroline in the shower. Despite showing her topless, the film managed to get a PG rating.